Ace reporter Robert Woodward got the headlines he wanted with his flat assertion that Hillary is in play as President Obama's VP pick in 2012. "It's on the table" is the way Woodward put it in an interview with CNN's John King. She may or may not be. But she should be. The talk of an Obama-Hillary ticket is hardly new. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in his insider's tell-all book Audacity to Win said that Obama did actually think about picking Hillary as his running mate. He scrapped the idea supposedly because if he took Hillary, he'd have to take Bill.
The worry was that Bill would have butted in at every turn and tried to be the de-facto expert and boss on policy decisions. In other words, Bill would forget that his White House term officially ended in January, 2001 and Obama's would begin in January, 2009. And at last look, the Constitution says that there can only be one president at a time. Obama would have had to waste time fending him off, and that would have made governing a living nightmare for him. This was nothing but after-the-fact speculation, second guessing, and flat out Bill distaste.
The truth is that the issue then wasn't Bill. It was Hillary. The campaign amply showed that she was a political force, energizer, and crack campaigner. In candidate debate after debate she showed that she had a solid command of domestic and foreign policy issues. She took the full barrage of media, anti-Bill Clinton, gender, and at times Obama campaign baiting. Her problem was that she got outspent, out-strategized, and politically outsmarted by Team Obama. Despite the bombs that Obama and Hillary tossed at each other during the campaign, she was not his enemy. The minute she threw in the towel on her campaign she unhesitatingly endorsed Obama, campaigned for him, and repeatedly bombarded her supporters with emails and exhorted them in speeches to back Obama. Bill did the same.
Obama understood her political importance. Despite supposed jitters about Bill, and the residual bitterness from some of the ugly smears that Hillary and Obama plastered on each other during the heat of the campaign, once safely ensconced in the White House Obama didn't kick her to the curb. He kicked her into his cabinet. He hewed to the immortal line from the Godfather movie, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Hillary proved to be an ally. And she can be even more of an ally, who has not lost her popularity and political appeal.
Nearly a year into the Obama administration, a Gallup survey still showed her as far more popular than Obama. This of course had much to do with the fact that she was not a sitting president with the burdens, pressures, and hatred that go with the office. But it also had much to do with the political savvy, grace and comportment that millions still liked and admired in her during the campaign, her years in the White House and the Senate. Even after the Gallup survey showed she far outshone Obama with the general public, Clinton again proved her iron loyalty to Obama and the Democratic Party by quickly scotching any talk about running for president in 2012. This proved that Obama's initial instincts to consider her for Vice President were right.
As Obama's VP in 2012, Hillary will bring the same top notch political qualities to the reelection campaign that she brought to the 2008 campaign. That is expertise on health care reform, civil rights and liberties, campaign finance and immigration reform, and now added to that her special area of expertise on foreign policy. She will still be a role model and inspiration for millions of women young and old. She will prove that women can hold a top political power spot that requires providing valuable policy guidance and expertise on tough domestic and foreign policy issues. She will be a priceless go-between for Obama to Congress in the hard battles that he will continue to face to get his agenda passed.
Hillary will also bring another priceless quality to the ticket. She is not intimidated by the GOP smear machine. She took everything that the smear artists hit her with during her years in the White House, and heard a repeat of the same lies, distortions, and slanders on the campaign trail especially in the early days of the campaign when it was thought that she was the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. It didn't work out that way, and when she virtually disappeared from the political radar scope, the GOP and the loathe Obama crowd largely forgot her. That's another asset for Obama. A fresh, battle tested, with little baggage, and with a massive following, Hillary would be a formidable match for anything the GOP throws up. Obama-Hillary is the winning ticket in 2012.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.